Wednesday, January 28, 2009

DC 1.0 + 2.0

On Monday night we had lots of snow and woke up to a white world of powdery stuff. It was like walking in sugar at first.

The view from my bedroom window:

It snowed heavily all morning, so I stayed in. Classes were cancelled and roads were continually salted. By lunchtime it lightened up a lot, so I ventured out to buy my SmarTrip card:

Time to say goodbye to my London Underground Oyster card. I don't want the proximity chip in it to interfere with the new one.

In the next two weeks I will have to finish off the balance on my NY MTA Metrocards. No more swiping at turnstiles, though it was convenient not to take the card out in order to exit as you do in London and DC. However, it was inconvenient to have to get a new card every time I needed a refill because the machine couldn't read it, even though it's supposed to last a year.

And hello to my new Metro SmarTrip card. I will soon be back to touching in and out on an electronic pad! I don't know why NYC hasn't done this sooner. Right now they are testing a similar system combining a debit, credit, and metro card in one like Barclays is attempting in London, but it's rare and I bet with budget and service cuts, change of any kind is not going to be a priority.

One thing though. Why can't they be of simple design like the Oyster? It was instituted not long after I moved to London in 2002. Before that, they were using paper tickets like NY's plastic ones. And before the plastic ones, NYC was using old fashioned coin tokens.


As the snow continued, I walked the 7 or 8 blocks north of the house to the National Cathedral.

My old dilemma: which ONE to show you, so here are three:

The National Cathedral is where an Inaugural prayer service has been held for every president since 1912. It took nearly 100 years to plan and nearly another 100 build.

George Washington commissioned a plan for a national cathedral from Pierre L'Enfant in 1791.

Congress granted a charter in 1893.

The first stone, which comes from Bethlehem, was laid in 1907 in the presence of President Roosevelt, the Bishop of London, and 10,000 spectators.

Queen Elizabeth II and President Gerald Ford attended the dedication of the nave and the west Rose window in 1976.

George H.W. Bush was on hand to oversee the placement of the last stone in 1990.

One of many side chapels

Fan vaults always captivate my eye

A cross from the rubble at the Pentagon on 9/11, presented to the Cathedral by the US Army Chief of Chaplains

One Rose window

Going down into the Crypt.

Obviously, being a newer church, there are no tombs in the Crypt, so much of it can be used for chapels and who knows what else? I nearly got lost down there, and partly spooked, because I was alone amidst all this Gothic architecture. And it has been a long time since I heard such profound silence...

The Bethlehem Chapel, where the first services were held

Two entrances to the Chapel of Joseph of Arimathea

The Altar of the Chapel of Joseph of Arimathea

A gate in the crypt, probably from the 1950s

The wee little Good Shepherd Chapel

A retro space age stained glass window

Closer look - cool huh?

And back out into the snow, which became a sharp sleet as I walked home, which overnight turned into freezing rain, ugh...

I wanted to stay for Evensong, but it was only going to be Evenprayer and only a few hardy souls turned up. School had been cancelled so there was no choir. Oh! I just remembered I was going to go this evening, but actually I have also just remembered that school was cancelled again, which caused President Obama, a hardened Chicago resident, to chide the gentle Washingtonians for their inability to handle a bit of weather.

I don't know how long I spent inside, but time disappeared and I doubt I have ever stayed so long touring round a church. I spent the last half hour there chatting with a docent. She is originally British, but married a local and has been living here for 45 years. She urged me to come visit often when I move down.


Washington 2.0

Today was very icy, but my potential landlady was determined to make good on her promise to come pick me up. We had chatted a couple of times a day since my arrival and were just waiting for some better weather.

She has been holding the room for me, and I would be a fool not to take it. It's even bigger in life than it looked in the pictures. My ensuite bathroom is the size of my bedroom in Brooklyn. The bedroom is even bigger than my old bedroom in St John's Wood. (Do any of you remember?)

Let's just say that I will be paying the same for this as I am my current cubbyhole, and that for space like this, even in Brooklyn, I would have to pay double. What's more, the lovely furniture is staying, the carpet is new, and I have that wall of closets and four whole window seats I mentioned last week.

Check it out:

I think I would have to pay at least $2000 for a room like this in Manhattan.

Here's the kitchen and the exterior. My windows face the cherry trees in the courtyard - I can't wait till the blossoms in spring!!!

I spent the afternoon with new landlady and her granddaughter. She drove me around town, pointing out buildings, parks, neighborhoods, shops, and restaurants, on the way back to my guesthouse.

The sky was clearing, and I wanted to go for a walk round the neighborhood before sunset, but when I nearly slid down the icy hill on my butt and heard the clumps of snow falling off the trees, I thought, "I don't really need to be out in this. I could go inside and do my UK tax return..."

Stay tuned Thursday, for that is when the sun comes out and the sightseeing begins!


Anonymous said...

How lovely lovely to see the Cathedral in that snowy aspect. I remember visiting it several years ago when I was in DC. So many picturesque angles, so little space to post.

I expected to see the craftsman style cozy snugness since you said your rented accommodations would be similar to the place you're staying at the present. But the brightness and size of the rooms will quite a luxury since you are accustomed to itsy bitsy spaces! And you have your own kitchen? Or share with your landlady?

Selba said...

I can feel the dilemma of choosing between those 3 pictures coz' all are beautiful! :)

What a beautiful church!

Olivia said...

*sigh* I have just finished my tax return.

I owe £0.48, which I paid online. I bet the admin for processing those 48 pennies cost many times more.


Nikki - I guess when I said similar, I meant in use of space.

This crafstman house is like living in an antique, but the townhouse is much more luxurious and relaxing. The kitchen will be shared between the landlady, the other tenant, and me. Neither of them cook much, so looks like I'll be making good use of it.

Me accustomed to itsy bitsy spaces? Nah, I never got used to it. Looking forward to not stubbing my toe on things :)


Selby - it was amazingly serene, and did I mention the silence was deafening.
It felt like any gothic church except the stones don't smell old yet.

Jo said...

What a cute little room! Who would you share the other spaces with?

Also, I like the first and last pictures of the National Cathedral. I so want to go there!

Olivia said...

Jo - little??? YOu obviously live in Texas.

Actually, my rooms in Tx were never this big. It's the size of a master bedroom.

I will be sharing the kitchen and dining room with the landlady and another tenant who is a student.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Nice flat! It's in a nice-looking area, too! Lots of scope for the imagination!

It's all about atmosphere, innit, m'lady? ;-)

I love that cathedral! It looks like a fun place to explore. I've always liked Gothic architecture...and BLUE stained glass windows! ;-)

Trains in the U.S. are using smart cards now? (Mouth drops open.) Ironic that trains here in Japan are still depending mainly on paper tickets with magnetic backs.

Flighty said...

Lovely post and photos!
There may be some snow here from Sunday onwards.
Stay warm and have a good weekend! xx

Olivia said...

Minstrel - I have lots of atmosphere in the new place, and my landlady seems to have anticipated me in the atmosphere department.

I know, there's usually more red stained glass in cathedrals, isn't there?

I am extremely surprised that Japan, of all places, is still using paper tickets, while DC, NY and London are ahead. Is there any talk of change?

Olivia said...

Flighty - you stay warm too, put on the fire, make lots of tea, and don't let the dampness in!

steve said...

The room seems a bargain. My daughter and son-in-law pay $1700 a month for a one-bedroom "garden" (basement) apartment off K Street.

People on the DC Metro are far more courteous than, say, the Chicago "L." People actually wait for others to get off before entering. But in NY, Philly, and Chicago, the buses and trains are in the same system. In the Inaugural Parade, a 1950s DC Transit bus garnered a lot of cheers.

The photos of the Cathedral are wonderful.